One of the wonders of creation is water. 90% of the human body is water. Without water, there is no life on earth. The entire species on earth have learnt to drink water in their own way. The primitive man started drinking water from his cupped hands and with progress in civilisation the man started using a variety of glasses made of different materials. Till the invention of stainless steel, aluminium, and plastic, common man was using brass, bronze, and copper glasses for drinking water.
Now those wonderful metal glasses are not to be seen anywhere. Once they were a part of daily life and quenched the thirst of millions of people, particularly from India, who believed since ancient times that drinking water from copper, brass, and bronze glasses is good for health. Hindus considered brass, copper, and bronze metals as Lakshmi pradham meaning equivalent to Goddess Lakshmi. I am fortunate to have managed to collect some of these magnificent art works with functional value. In this article, I am presenting an antique bronze water drinking glass that has excellent craftsmanship and looks so gorgeous!
Vintage Bronze Drinking Water Glass
Dimensions – Height 4.7”, Top mouth opening diameter 3.8”, Bottom base diameter 2.5”, Thickness 0.25”
Composition of Bronze Metal
This glass is made out of bronze metal. Bronze metal is an alloy of Copper, Tin, Iron, Zinc, and Mercury. Bronze is also known as bell metal. It is called Kansa (kahn-sah) in Hindi and Kanchu in Telugu language. The bronze glasses are made by first heating the metal to a high degree of temperature till it becomes malleable and then this vulnerable compound is beaten with hand using a hammer by the artisan to achieve the shape of a drinking glass. The glasses are also shaped by moulding or casting method. The metal is heated in a crucible till it becomes a liquid and then poured into a mould meant for making glasses and then given a finishing.
The bronze glass retains the inherent medicinal elements of the metals that the bronze is composed of. When water is stored or drank from the bronze glass, all the properties of bronze are absorbed by the body through the water.
The Design of the Bronze Metal Glass
This enchanting antique bronze glass is made by casting technique. It has a solid round base to hold the weight of the body of the glass that is on the top. There is a nice half inch groove between the base of the ring and the body of the glass.
The body of the glass is decorated with an embossed ring half an inch below the top rim and one more ring half an inch above the bottom of the glass body. There are exquisitely crafted ribs joining the lower ring with the top ring. The design of the ribs gives immense beauty to the glass.
The ribs also provide grip for holding the glass as against smooth finish of the glass. The ribs on the glass have now got smoothened because of the constant usage and antiquity. The body of the glass delicately curves itself to form a cute rim at the top which is used to glide water for drinking. There are two fine decorative grooves on the top rim at the opening of the mouth.
There are patina marks on the body of the glass which are visible in the picture. I tried hard to remove them by cleaning the surface of the glass but they are so deep into the metal due to antiquity that I could not remove them entirely. They are still visible as patches on the glass. Patina mark is tarnish on the metals like bronze and copper.
Patina mark is a stain formed due to coating of chemicals like oxides, sulphides, and carbonates on the metal surface due to contact with atmospheric elements like rain, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and sulphur compounds. Some antique lovers retain the patina mark which is green in colour on the artefact to showcase the antiquity of the object.
History of the Glass
My grandfather Shri. Yenugu Krishnamurthy, born in the year 1882, was using this glass for drinking water. This glass used to be placed next to his silver plate in which he used to eat his food regularly.
This glass was presented to him by his mother-in-law Shrimathi. Sampara Kavamma who was born in the year 1865. She had presented this glass to my father-in-law as a wedding gift in the year 1900. Thus, this glass is as old as 113 years. There is an inscription on the back of the glass in Telugu language reading as “Sa Ka” meaning the abbreviation of her name Sampara Kavamma. The actual inscription is a combination of words and design in the form of two vertical lines like – II Sa II Ka II.
The wonder of the inscription of her name is that it is not carved after the casting of the glass is done as it is normally done in general practice. But here it was done during the casting of the glass itself which makes it unique. This shows the advanced technical skill of the artisan. It reveals one more pleasant secret that this glass was not purchased by Sampara Kavamma in the market but it was commissioned by her and the artisan had exclusively made it for her order.
This antique bronze drinking water glass reveals to us the culture and the way of life of people from the bygone era. This glass is a mute testimony of the glorious life our ancestors lived decades ago by blending art with utility and living in harmony with the nature.